An­i­mated twist in Rove’s ca­reer

Rel­ish­ing projects for their fun is work­ing for this co­me­dian, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

ROVE McManus says it’s funny how the stuff that used to get him in trou­ble in school now gets him a job on a really cool show.

That’s the se­cret of Rove’s success right there – the sense of fun and en­thu­si­asm the Gold Lo­gie win­ner brings to his many and var­ied projects.

One of them is the up­com­ing an­i­mated ad­ven­ture Ex­change Stu­dent Zero, air­ing on pay TV provider Foxtel’s Car­toon Net­work.

In the tele­movie, set in McManus’s home town of Perth, best friends John and Max find their favourite fan­tasy card game Bat­tle Day Zero tak­ing on a whole new di­men­sion when one of its characters, the heroic Hiro, comes to life.

Pass­ing him off an as ex­change stu­dent at their school seems like a so­lu­tion – un­til more and more ex­otic crea­tures from the game start en­ter­ing our world.

John, Max and Hiro are only a few of the characters voiced by McManus, with Marg Downey, Peter Row­sthorn and Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker him­self) also lend­ing their dul­cet tones to the project.

Sadly, Rove didn’t get to work with Hamill but ev­ery­thing else proved to be a pure joy, he says.

‘‘Not only be­cause I am a fan of the art form but also, there is no greater plea­sure than jump­ing up and down like an id­iot and mak­ing silly voices for a day,’’ he says. Be­ing aware of your af­fec­tion for an­i­ma­tion and see­ing your name cred­ited to so many characters, was

a Rove McManus brain­child?

I would gladly take that credit. When they first told me about the idea, I thought it was bril­liant and one I wished I’d thought of. But it has come from some­one else. Was it al­ways in­tended that you voice so many characters?

It ended up be­ing quite an or­ganic process. There were prob­a­bly about eight of us in the cast orig­i­nally, when the idea was just get­ting up. And we would read the script through and Bruce [Kane, pro­ducer] would get us to swap roles, find­ing the right peo­ple for the right mix, and you would find your­self do­ing one or two dif­fer­ent roles. Then on the day you’d hear, ‘‘Oh, do you think you could read this one too?’’ Be­fore you know it, you’ve got five roles, which is ac­tu­ally a real thrill. What’s more, those characters are in­ter­act­ing with one an­other, adding to the chal­lenge. How did you ap­proach that?

You don’t want them to just sound dif­fer­ent vo­cally but have a real dis­tinc­tion be­tween one char­ac­ter and the next. The main characters Max and John are very good ex­am­ples of guys with a sim­i­lar kind of sound, although Max has a slight speech im­ped­i­ment be­cause he has th­ese huge teeth. John is more like I was at that young age, while Max is this very height­ened, over-the-top type of char­ac­ter, so I can be a bit more ex­citable. And for Hiro I watched a lot of anime to get that very hur­ried way of talk­ing. It’s a fun process – it’s not just about pick­ing a funny voice out of thin air, it’s about build­ing a whole char­ac­ter from the ground up. Is act­ing some­thing you’d like to pur­sue?

I like to think it’s in there some­where be­cause act­ing got me my start be­fore I started do­ing stand-up. I acted as a kid but then I got bit­ten by the com­edy bug. Even when I was act­ing, though, I pre­ferred comedic parts to more dra­matic stuff. That led to me get­ting into per­form­ing. I get the feel­ing my act­ing know-how may have been beaten out of me through years of com­edy be­cause I now tend to play things so large but I like to think it’s still in there and it’s some­thing I could tap into. Comedic act­ing is some­thing I en­joy and some­thing I’d like to do a bit more of, so maybe this is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

5pm, Car­toon Net­work.

Sun­days,

Rove McManus and a se­lec­tion of the characters he voices in

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